Watch and learn…
That was my first reaction. This trailer is beautiful! This trailer is elegant! This trailer is powerful! And it’s deceptively simple.
Let’s think this through. Now, if you’re familiar with epic fantasy novels, then you know that the world or milieu is often a major part of the story. Early pages in the book, before the text, often show the world or a portion of the world where the story takes place. So, starting the trailer with a flash of the world map is a good idea that aligns with the genre.
The music is energetic and stimulating, without being so attention-getting that it detracts from what’s going on in the trailer itself. Note here that instrumental music without lyrics tends to work better for trailers, but there are exceptions.
The majority of the trailer material is text-based, which is an appropriate way to deliver a pitch for a book, but also risks being visually unappealing, which is inappropriate for a trailer. This trailer gets around this by having a semi-active, interesting visual backdrop that ties into the text.
We are introduced first to a character—a girl—who we learn actively embraces change. She wants to change the world. We learn that music is part of her power to be such a force for change. We also learn that there are those who resist change and therefore want to silence her.
So far, these are all motives and forces we understand and can readily identify with. I imagine we’ve all, at one point or another, wanted to be a force for change, particularly for positive change (which is an assumption in the case of this story, but I’m going to go with it anyway). We’ve all also faced (and many of us have been) a force that resists change. (These motivations are thematic, by the way…just sayin’.)
And, of course, in a world where free speech is becoming an increasingly potent issue, the idea of being silenced is a powerful one.
Now, we move more into plot stuff: being hunted, being found, needing to act and to change in order to become the change we want to see.
Next, we’re introduced to The Riddler, the title character. This character’s motives are the point of intrigue. We have to read the book to learn more. It’s a great catch and a great image!
Now, all this is beautifully done and it’s certainly motivating for this reader of epic fantasies. The one and only problem I have is that the trailer did so well with so many things, and yet the person cast in the trailer as the primary actor (the protagonist) is only “a girl.”
This isn’t a gender equality issue. It’s a naming issue, a characterization issue. We know enough about the “girl” to be interested in the character, and yet the trailer doesn’t bother to identify her. I find that rather disappointing. Would it have been so hard to give us a name? I guarantee it would be a more potent identifying factor if, in my head, this character who seems so easy to empathize with had a name to go along with the idea of her.